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Guess How Much It Costs to Raise a Kid Now

Photograph by Twenty20

First, the good news: The cost of raising kids rose at a slower rate between 2014 and 2015 than any typical year since 1960, says government data released this month. The bad news? Well, you make want to take a seat. If you’re planning to have any more kids, it's going to cost you—and maybe a lot more than you thought it would. Even though the cost rose only 3 percent, it's still above the rate of inflation and the total price tag is quite hefty when you think about it.

The average cost for a middle-income married couple to raise a child from birth to age 18 for kids born in 2015 was a whopping $233,610, according to a report from the Department of Agriculture.

The cost for low-income families ranged as low as $174,690 and as high as $372,210 for wealthy families.

But how much you end up paying overall depends a lot on where you live. Families living in northeast urban areas (think New York City and Boston, for example) pay the highest cost for raising kids, followed by families living in western, coastal urban areas (think Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle) and urban areas in southern states (think Dallas, Atlanta and Miami). Parents raising kids in rural areas pay the least, but then, they also lack access to some things urban and suburban parents have at their disposal.

Average costs for families in urban Midwest and rural areas are the lowest.

So what does the breakdown look like?

From birth until age 18, you'll shell out that cost divided somewhat like this:

  • 29 percent on housing
  • 18 percent on food
  • 16 percent on child care and education
  • 15 percent on transportation
  • 9 percent on health care
  • 7 percent on miscellaneous costs (this includes things such as personal care items, entertainment, devices such as portable media players and computers, sports equipment and non-school reading materials)
  • 6 percent on clothing

None of these figures take into account the costs of private schooling or college if those are in the cards. Ouch.

There is a silver lining, though. The report shows that the more kids you have, the more your per-child cost goes down. Parents with just one child spend 27 percent more on an only child, while parents with three or more children end up paying about 24 percent less per child (thanks to stuff like shared bedrooms and hand-me-down clothes and toys). And thankfully, the cost is spread out over 18 years.

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Infographic via USDA

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